Children learn through play. As an occupational therapist who works with children and youth, I use games and toys almost every day to help develop important cognitive, visual perceptual, motor, sensory, social, play and leisure skills. While many different types of activities can be used in therapy, this blog focuses on off-the-shelf games and toys that are accessible to most. Whether you are a therapist, parent, teacher, or a game lover like me, I hope you discover something useful while you are here. Learn a different way to play a game you already own or discover a new game for your next family game night. Either way, just go play. It's good for you!

The OT Magazine named The Playful Otter one of the Top 5 Pediatric OT Blogs.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Imagination Patterns

Work on manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, motor planning, body awareness, tactile perception, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, attention, recognition of shapes and shape names, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the wooden carrying case: 43 wood blocks, 25 double-sided pattern cards (50 designs) 
Ages 3+, 1+ players 
Two words described my reaction today as I opened the wooden carrying case and examined the contents on my newest game - very disappointed. I ordered this because I own the original set called Imaginets and have used it a lot. I have had this Imagination Patterns set on my wish list for quite awhile, and finally broke down and bought it. If I had paid more attention to the images on the front of the box (above), I would have noticed that the elephant and helicopter are both images that are included in the Imaginets set. But I didn't really give it any thought. So when I opened the package of cards for this new set and found that over half of them were repeats of images found in the Imaginets set, I was, as I mentioned, very disappointed. The reason it was on my wish list so long was because this set costs over $30. I think long and hard about paying that much for one item, but the Imaginets set has been such a hit with the kids, and a very useful tool across ages and abilities, that I thought it was worth the investment. Maybe it is just me, but when I pay that much, I would have expected all new images to work with. Now that that is off my chest, I will point out a few more differences between the two sets and then write a little about how you can use it. Both sets have 5 vibrant colors of wood pieces. Pieces are the same shape and size in both sets. The imagination Patterns set has light orange pieces instead of the original yellow. This new set also has 11 pieces with patterns, including stripes, swirls, stars, and checkers. The rest of the pieces are solid colors.
With this set you can create models from 2D picture cards using a variety of wooden, brightly colored, pieces of a variety of shapes. The wooden pieces have a magnetic layer on the back and stick to the white board quite securely. You can set the board up on its side and the pieces will not slip or fall off. The white board can also be drawn on with a dry erase marker, according to the manufacturer, but I have not tried it. Therefore, I don't know if it leaves a shadow once erased or not, but I have found Bic erasable markers do so I steer clear of them. The challenge cards are numbered 1-50 (small numbers in the bottom corner) and increase in difficulty as the numbers go up. I often use the magnetic pattern sets with beginners or individuals who have slight hand tremors or other conditions that impact their fine motor precision because magnetic pieces, once laid, are harder to disturb if bumped than non-magnetic pieces.

Try this:
  • Play with the pieces before using the cards and point out the differences in size, shape, color, etc.
  • Put the first piece in place in front of the individual if he cannot look at the picture and figure out where to start. Or say something like "Let's start with the ears".
  • Orient and place a piece if the individual is having trouble with orientation. Then pick it up, hand it to the individual, and invite him to place it.
  • Hand the individual a piece he will need and ask him to turn it in-hand for the correct placement.
  • Use consistent directional and positional language such as above, to the left of, under, flush, etc.
  • Find all pieces for the picture ahead of time. Place only those pieces (or even fewer) next to the board if you want to focus on one specific skill at a time, such as spatial orientation. This may decrease frustration from working on too many things at once.
  • Practice recognizing shapes from different orientations. Ask the individual to search through all the available pieces to find the ones he needs. Make sure that the pieces are in various positions so that some are facing the wrong direction, some are overlapping, some are upside-down, some are on their sides, etc.
  • Correct errors as soon as they are made as continuing to build on incorrect placement may impact the rest of the model.
  • Teach the individual to recognize and correct errors. After the individual places a piece incorrectly, ask "Are you sure?" or say "Try again". If he cannot figure out the error, make the correction while he watches. Then pick up the piece and hand it to him to place.
  • Give fading prompts as the individual learns to identify errors and correct mistakes on his own.
  • Ask the individual to cup his non-dominant hand. If he has trouble doing this, place a small ball in his hand and ask him to curl and lightly squeeze his fingers around the ball. Then remove the ball and ask him to hold his hand in that position. Place several of the pieces he will need in the cupped hand and keep the hand cupped while he places the pieces on the board.
If you are interested in purchasing this item, or for more information, click on the image below.     


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